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Old September 20th, 2017, 04:39 PM   #241
Jeff Buchanan
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Location: Atlanta, GA
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This goes back to points made by several posters here (and elsewhere) about the inability of M to run the ball (or pass it but this isn't about that) in the red-zone.... or "run the damn ball" which I've heard said many times here and I've said it too.

I mentioned earlier that it had been pointed out to me that M had trouble handling slants and stunts. So what does that mean and how does a defense do that? Probably the best description of this is at the link below (Neck Sharpies by Seth). Cliff notes;

AF's 3-4 defense was based on slanting a pair of DL in the hopes of filling gaps in the inside run game. They also brought LBs up to fill the gaps left by the slanting pair of DL, keeping one S back and another one a few yards off the LOS. This routinely puts 8-9 defenders in the box. The AF D sniffed out where the ball was going on the inside run game based on the make-up of the OL (film study and extremely well coached). M can run against this if the offensive play is properly executed and the D guess wrong on where to slant (see below) so, it's not correct to say that "why run the ball when there are 9 guys in the box - audible into something else!!!")

One of Isaac's big runs where he faked inside and bounced outside behind Cole (the one where he stepped out of bounds while running for a TD) was a designed constraint that was superbly executed against a slanting AF DL (the wrong way) and a fake misdirection route that drew a S out of the box by McDoom. (See the video).

People ask, "how does M fix that their OL doesn't handle slants and stunts very well"? When a defense does this as well as AF did, it's hard. It's clear to me that they were very good at it and as well guessed right more times than they guessed wrong in those gaps. When they did guess wrong, and it happened way more than once, a big play ensues .... or as the case might have been the RB missed the open gap.

Play calling and RBs hitting the open gap (the one created with a DL pair slanting the wrong way) fixes it more than anything and the one constraint that gave Isaac a free run up the play-side sideline that I described above is one of them. You have to RPS this stuff with the right offensive play call and all it takes is a couple of those to win a ball game......

M had at least three (Higdon to close out the game, and probably two, maybe more, by Isaac one called back, one of those by questionable/tacky defensive holding penalty. Evans had one where the AF slant went the wrong way (play went to the L on the boundary or short side; slant went R). He got over 10 yards before fumbling.

When you get into the nuts and bolts of Oline versus Dline, the chess game being played between OC and DC, the backs running the right way, is utterly fascinating. When you look at this stuff the way coaches look at post game film, you tend not to be so hard on the guys in the trenches, at least I do. You can also understand why Harbugh likes "where the team is right now."
On Harbaugh's expectations for M football in 2015 (NFL NETWORK): “We'd rather be about it than talk about it."
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